Stressed nurse leaves dementia patient in hospital storeroom all night

20170110070000, Jenny Maganran Goh
Stressed nurses often make poorer decisions that can affect patient safety and cause them greater distress
Work stress is inevitable but more so among nurses who have to keep their calm even in the face of unnerving patients. We are quick to point the moral compass of mindfulness at nurses, reminding them of compassionate care, with patient outcomes as priority.

Yet, despite this call to greater professionalism, today’s healthcare scene is often compromised by malpractice allegations among medical practitioners.

UK nurse fired for neglect of dementia patient

Senior nurse Heather Davies was dismissed and struck off for confining a weak and vulnerable patient with dementia in a dark equipment cupboard at Hinchingbrooke hospital in Cambridgeshire for an entire night. The junior nurse, Lisa Ndlovy, who initiated the move, was suspended for six months.

The patient was said to be frightened, shivering and hallucinating in the storeroom with no call bell or “cot bumpers” on the bed to prevent her from falling.

Earlier in the night, the junior nurse had moved the distressed patient into a corridor when she became delirious. Davies had told her that the size of her bed meant that “they would need to find somewhere with double doors like the ones on the equipment room”, according to a report by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

In her defence, Davies had explained to the disciplinary panel that the suggestion was meant to be an example but the junior nurse went ahead and pushed the bed into the storeroom at midnight.

When alerted by a healthcare assistant of the distressed state of the patient in the room, Davis did a quick check but left her there, still in the equipment room, till 6am.

She said that the prevalence of a virus in the ward had put additional pressure on the nursing staff but acknowledged that it was a mistake to have left the patient in ““an unsuitable, unacceptable, dangerous and frightening environment.”

The NMC panel said that it was an “extremely serious incident involving a serious error of judgement by Mrs Davies” and that as the nurse in charge, Davies “took no action to deal with the situation or remove [the patient] from an unsafe environment”.

Focus on quality nursing care

In Malaysia, the focus has always been on improving quality care and patient safety.

In 2014, Uthayabavani had brought her 14-year-old daughter, Tinasha who was epileptic to the hospital because of a fever. The physician on duty attended to her and after her fever had subsided, she complained of headache and nausea. A nurse gave her medicine for the nausea. After taking the medicine, she felt too tired to get up, and the nurses had claimed it was a side effect from the medicine.

It was then that Uthayabavani found Tinasha’s eyes were not moving and her hands started twitching. Again, she was given more medication and when her mother insisted on seeing a specialist, she was repeatedly told that her daughter would be fine. Sadly, the condition became worse. By the time she was transferred to the intensive care unit, hospital staff had declared her brain dead.

Singaporean nurse shifts blame to patient

In Singapore, professional misconduct and negligence are viewed seriously. In May 2016, a nurse was accused of negligence when the patient of a patient who was admitted to Ng Teng Fong Hospital (NTFH), tried to use the nurse call button as he was in pain but later found out it was not plugged on by a relative who happened to visit him then.

When questioned, the nurse, Shea Chea Fong, tried to shift the blame to the patient suggesting that he might have pulled the plug himself though Ms Ho knew that her father was too frail to have done it.

The nurse did not want to take responsibility for the negligence and offered no apology. She told them very curtly to “go ahead” when they threatened to alert the hospital’s management. MIMS

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Sources:
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/dec/27/nurse-struck-off-for-leaving-dementia-patient-in-storeroom-overnight
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1758053/pdf/v013p00071.pdf
http://theindependent.sg/ng-teng-fong-hospital-staff-allegedly-found-to-be-negligent-in-caring-for-old-man/
http://unimasnurses.blogspot.my/2011/03/challenges-being-nurse-in-malaysia-got.html
https://www.hrw.org/news/2014/09/24/malaysia-transgender-people-under-threat
http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/my-baby-is-gone-cries-mother-claiming-hospital-negligence#sthash.x86Dr7wv.dpuf